Sperm Donor

Using a sperm donor, also referred to as donor insemination, is an option for both heterosexual couples and women without a male partner. When considering donor insemination, your fertility specialist will likely recommend you and your partner speak with a counselor before undergoing the process. The counselor will ensure both partners are comfortable with the decision, discuss any moral or ethical concerns you have and explore questions about donor selection.


Who May Use a Sperm Donor?

Women without a male partner who would like to have a biological child may consider using a sperm donor. Couples may also consider donor insemination if the man has poor semen analysis, no sperm or a genetic problem that could be passed to his off-spring.

Women seeking donor insemination will undergo a health screening to ensure you are capable of conceiving and healthy enough to carry a baby full-term. Given our ability to achieve pregnancy with men with very low sperm counts using IVF and ICSI (direct sperm injection into the egg), donor insemination is being used less frequently.


What is Required of the Sperm Donor?

You have the right to select your sperm bank and donor. Sperm donors are required to provide an extensive personal and family history that includes a history of genetic disorders. Neither the donor nor his sexual partner can have had a blood transfusion in the last year, multiple sexual partners, a history of IV drug use or genital herpes.

Tests are run for diseases and infections- such as HIV, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis and reproductive tract infections- that can be passed through semen and impact you or your fetus. The donated semen is typically frozen and held for 6 months to allow fertility specialists to test again for certain disease and infections.


Process for Donor Insemination

Sperm samples may be washed or unwashed. Washed sperm is prepared by removing viable sperm cells from other contents of seminal fluid, such as dead or slow moving sperm, white blood cells and prostaglandins. Sperm washing can be performed by the sperm bank or your fertility clinic, depending on your fertility specialist’s preference.

There are two main methods for donor insemination. Using intracervical insemination (ICI), your fertility specialist will place the semen inside your cervix. Unwashed semen can be used for the ICI method. During intrauterine insemination (IUI), semen is placed through the cervix and deposited directly inside the uterine cavity. IUI requires washed semen because the prostaglandins may cause severe pain and cramping if inside the uterus.

Your fertility specialist will wait until you are as close to ovulation as possible for either insemination procedure.


Success Rates of Donor Insemination

Using a sperm donor to conceive comes with the same risks as becoming pregnant naturally. Generally, the success rate for donor insemination is 60-80%, but it may require multiple cycles. This can vary depending on the woman’s age and health. Women over the age of 35 or with health issues such as PCOS and endometriosis have a lower rate of success. One study did show that employing IUI rather than ICI greatly increased the chances of conceiving.

If no pregnancy occurs following several cycles, your fertility specialist may continue evaluating you for female fertility issues or recommend ovulatory stimulating drugs.

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